Karakuri Circus – Anime Preview
Synopsis: After inheriting the family fortune, eleven-year-old Masaru Saiga is targeted by kidnappers armed with bizarre and deadly puppets. He escapes once aided by circus employee Narumi Kato, but the kidnappers soon catch up with them. Just when all seems lost, the two are saved by the mysterious Shirogane who wields her own marionette. From then on, the trioâ€TMs fates become inexorably intertwined… (Official Amazon Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Karakuri starts incredibly strong, with a shocking twist mere moments into its introduction. While the art remains strong and eye-catching, the show devolves into twisted internal logic, offering up characters with seemingly random, quirky traits that feel like tortured comedy, with thin explanations that generate more confusion than understanding.
Linny: Kakakuri throws in the most random of plot lines, such as revealing a rich family’s male heir fascination with puppets; and one of our main characters, Narumi Kato, a lowly member of a traveling circus, apparently suffers from some sort of condition where if he doesn’t make people laugh, he dies. What makes these all the more contrived is that they only seem to be there when needed for plot reasons.Narumi’s need to make people laugh completely disappears from the second half of the episode even though earlier on, it seemed like he had to make people laugh every few minutes. Karakuri Circus contains other peculiar elements, such as killer puppets and former nanny’s kids turned circus acrobats who also happen to be adept at puppet combat (yes that’s a real thing in this show) that might suck newcomers in just for the sheer bizarre nature of it all.
Tom: It’s this weird juxtaposition between Karakuri Circus wanting to be taken quite seriously, with deadly puppets, strong leads into mystery and mayhem, yet with characters who are far too silly to be taken seriously. These little missteps make Karakuri Circus messy. It’s not atypical of shonen, often wanting to produce darker content that makes us fear for the characters, but breaks that up frequently with quirky comedy that feels at odds with the rest of the presentation. Karakuri Circus still has its mystery going for it, so those less bothered by the flip-flop tone many shonen series suffer from may still find plenty to suck them in until the next episode.
Linny: Some viewers might find themselves invested after Masura is thrust into the depths of despair, making them want to watch on for his sake, especially when the twisted episode intro sequence hints to even darker events ahead for the poor boy. At the end of the day though, Karakuri Circus’ main appeal is its mystery and future brutality. Its first episode is already full of peculiar and contrived elements that might turn off those who prefer solid logic and world building but it’s also certain to pull in anyone who is here for a twisted tale with quirky components.
Karakuri Circus is available for streaming via Amazon.